‘Social media danger must be addressed’

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

EDUCATION Minister Jeffery Lloyd wants the use of cell phone videos that expose minors in compromising positions to be made illegal and punishable by a prison sentence, saying these situations could lead to future reputational harm.

In recent months, several sensitive videos with minors have made the rounds on social media.

One such video showed a high school student pulling up her underwear behind an unfinished building as a man - who appears to be in his late 20s - stood next to her fully clothed. Another man’s voice can be heard off camera stating the girl has been caught having sex. He then began to pressure the girl to have sex with him, and threatened to post the video to social media if she did not comply.

The situation, Mr Lloyd said, almost sent the girl to Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.

As he spoke during the budget debate in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Lloyd also outlined the guidelines for the use of corporal punishment in schools, which he said is sanctioned by the Ministry of Education.

“As a country, as a government, we must find a way to sanction those who use social media as a platform for nefarious or weaponising features whether they realise it or not,” the South Beach MP said.

“I speak to our teachers in this country. I speak to our parents. I speak to our young children who are sitting in the gallery today. They do not have the maturity of mind to understand the dangers of this tool called social media that they have at their unfettered disposal. They may easily and innocently find themselves ensnared by the vortex of this technological entrapment.

“The Bahamas has a Computer Misuse Act, which deals with the manipulation of computers and data for criminal intent,” Mr Lloyd continued.

“I am suggesting, Mr Speaker that as a country, that as a Parliament that we seek to amend that law or to enact new ones to criminalise the use of any electronic device which exposes the life, reputation, identity or character of a minor to public contempt.

“Your life is young now and you have many years to go before expiration hopefully. Do not permit any exposure of your person or your child’s person by any means that one day may come back to haunt or embarrass.

“It is there in cyber library and it isn’t going anywhere and 20 and 30 and 50 years from now they pull up something that you did when you were 14 or 16, that you said at 22 and they bring it back to show the kind of thinking you may have or the kind of person that you were in those years. So be careful,” he warned.

“If adults want to expose their naked self across the social media landscape that’s their business, they’re adults. They should be responsible and let them suffer the consequence of their action, but not children, not minors. I think we should put people in jail who do that.”

Regarding corporal punishment in schools, the minister said Bahamian society must have its own discussions on how it is administered, if at all, in the future.

The topic was reignited after a parent showed a photograph of his child’s bruised buttocks on social media after he was disciplined at St Augustine’s College by a school official.

“Most of us know it by the term, which begins with the word ‘cut,’” Mr Lloyd said.

“It is officially defined by scientists as the use of physical force with the intent of causing the child to experience some kind of pain so as to correct their behaviour. Twenty years ago this became every topical in our country because of a certain circumstance and at that time crossed the Ministry of Education’s landscape there were wide ranging conversations and discussions about whether we as a school system should do away with corporal punishment.

“Let me say that the issue of corporal punishment is sanctioned by the Ministry of Education in what the school manuals describe as very grave situations and that it could only be administered by an administrator and never in the presence of another student or other students and as our policy that must be in the presence of another administrator or teacher and it is at the very end of all other avenues have been exhausted to seek remedy for the circumstances.”

He also said: “We are not going to be sucked into the conversation about corporal punishment unless or until the society decides how it wants to deal with corporal punishment. So you ain’t gonna put nothing on us while you half kill your child at home.”